Largest Iowa National Guard deployment in 7 years - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Largest Iowa National Guard deployment in 7 years

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

Hundreds of troops from the Iowa National Guard left today.

More than 100 soldiers were honored Friday afternoon during a ceremony at the University of Northern Iowa.

It was an emotional sendoff across the state as people said goodbye to friends and family.

One of the soldiers' wives wrote a song that was played before the ceremony started, and it gave the ceremony a personal touch.

Patriotic songs were performed on the pipes as soldiers waited for the ceremony to start.

When it did, friends and family enjoyed Courtney Frey's song she wrote, that she created to recognize the 248th Aviation Support Battalion.

After several state and local leaders expressed their gratitude, families gathered for emotional goodbyes.

"I'm going to be OK. I'm going to be strong. I don't want him to worry. I want him to go off and do his job, and we support him back at home," Courtney said.

Even though this is James' and Courtney's fourth deployment, Courtney's song made it special.

"It was pretty amazing. It was good for the families to be able to hear that," James said.

Friday's UNI sendoff was just one of four around the state, making this the largest single-unit deployment of Iowa National Guard members in seven years.

"You learn to be strong, and you learn to be a good team together. As a military wife and mom, my son is also in the National Guard, and I'm very proud of them. It doesn't mean that I don't get emotional and get sad, but there's a time and place to stand up and be supportive of what they do for us," Courtney said.

The National Guard members are traveling to Fort Hood, Texas for more training before heading overseas.

Nearly 400 of them are from Iowa alone with more than 500 members from other states joining later.

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